Every Facebook business page needs an investment in terms of your time. But some business are also investing part of their advertising budget in the online social giant.
We invest financially in our new Facebook pages.
For us, investing in a Facebook business page has been an effective strategy. And you may be wondering whether or not you should attempt this yourselves.
Just five years ago, Facebook was some kind of miracle for businesses.
You created a business page, posted interesting stuff on it, mixed in a few links to your own website, and watched the traffic flow in.
Everything you posted got read by most of the people who liked your page, and if you posted too often they got overwhelmed and unliked you.
So all you needed to do was post twice a day to ensure a growing audience and a steady flow of traffic to your website.
It was essentially free advertising. Which was, of course, too good to last.
The changing face of Facebook
Then the rules of the game changed. Two things happened.
- The grown ups invaded
- Facebook acquired shareholders
Grown ups invade Facebook
Remember when Facebook was for teenagers and college students? They spent hours on the site, exchanging secrets, and posting stuff they didn’t want their parents to see.
Then the grown ups got curious and joined in.
Teenagers got friend requests from Aunties and Grannies, so they all moved on to pastures new.
But the grown-ups were in love. They arrived in their millions and Facebook growth exploded.
It was no longer possible to read everything in your timeline, and that included posts from all the pages you had liked and forgotten about two minutes later.
So Facebook decided to create a timeline feed that reflected people’s interests.
Instead of showing you everything, they started showing you only things that you regularly engaged with. Or that they believed you might be interested in.
People kicked up at first, and then got over it.
Businesses were annoyed. It was especially tough for local clubs and charities that had relied on Facebook to keep in touch with their members and supporters.
Now there was a limit as to how many of your fans got to see your posts. Whether or not they wanted to.
Now, only 20 or 30% of everyone who liked your page, would be shown what you posted.
Then, to add to the pressure of proliferating posts came the pressure to generate profits.
Facebook acquire shareholders
In 2012, Facebook went public. For the first time, the giant was under pressure to create a profit for shareholders.
The end to free advertising was in sight
To their credit, Facebook did not just turn off the tap. But over a period of several years, the reach of every business page fell.
From 20% down to 15%. And then further to 10%
The death of free advertising
Finally, from each page post reaching over half of the page’s fans, we are now in a situation where on a large page, it is possible that less than 5% of your fans will ever see anything you post.
Unless you pay to promote it.
Free advertising was dead. Pay to play had arrived.
And how people kicked up. Some even abandoned their Facebook accounts in disgust.
Many articles pointed out that people who had already been paying Facebook to promote their pages and get new fans, on the understanding that their content would be distributed to those fans, were now unable to reach them.
This felt very unfair.
It was hard. We found it hard. But there was no going back
Strategies for succeeding with Facebook
For the most part, clubs and charities switched over to Facebook groups.
But groups are not right for many businesses.
Companies and self employed people now had to change their strategies if their pages were to succeed on Facebook.
We learned to do two things in order to survive and thrive in this new environment
- Post more frequently
- Post more engaging content.
Many successful Facebook pages now make multiple posts each day. Some even post hourly.
In the past this would have killed the page’s support. But not any more.
Businesses need to post frequently in order to reach the same number of people that they were reaching in the past when they were posting twice a day or less.
Unless you use some kind of scheduler, or employ someone to manage your page (or both) this level of posting is very difficult to maintain.
So more businesses than ever now use schedulers.
If you want to grow your facebook fans to the level where you are driving a lot of traffic to your website, this is probably essential
Post more engaging content
There are ways of increasing that 5% basic reach that many business pages are now experiencing.
Facebook will show your posts to more people, if they regularly engage with your page. That means liking and sharing what you post.
This is where pet bloggers have an advantage. Because people love to show off their beautiful pets.
With pets, we have found one of the best ways to get high engagement is to get people to share images of their own pets on our page.
We then re-post those images in the main body of the page so all our fans get to see them. This encourages yet more people to post their own pets.
If you use this strategy you’ll find that as the volume of posts to your page from your fans grows, you can begin to be more selective and post only very high quality images.
This makes your page a personal and enjoyable experience for your fans.
It also creates an upward spiral of organic growth and engagement with more page likes, and more people being shown your other posts.
But there is a problem.
This strategy only works once you have a big enough pool of fans to create that engagement in the first place. And getting that initial pool of fans can be a challenge.
It’s lonely on Facebook until people like you
Being ‘Billy No Mates’ is never a good idea if you are trying to build trust.
When someone views your page and sees that only four people have liked it, the chances are they won’t stick their neck out and like it too.
No matter how much great stuff you have posted there.
We are far more inclined to ‘like’ something that other people have liked already. That’s human nature
If you promote your business page, you will see this fact reflected in the falling cost of likes as your page gains more total likes.
Why we pay to play
This reluctance of people to join something that appears unpopular (which is an obstacle to any new page) is why we now pay to get a Facebook page rolling rather than wait for it to grow organically.
Those first one hundred likes can be very hard to get if you don’t do this.
For our latest pet blog case study, we set up a simple ‘promote your page’ campaign with an initial budget of $5 (£4) per day.
Because this campaign was so successful, with the cost per like falling to 1p within a week, we have increased the budget to $13 (£10) per day. And we’ll probably leave this running for a month or so, but we’ll be updating you on that in our next case study report.
Setting a daily budget
If you decide to promote your page this way be very careful when setting a budget.
Unlike post boosts, the ‘promote your page’ option budget suggestion is for daily budget, not total budget for the whole campaign.
If you put $26 (£20) in the budget box, you will be spending $26 per day
Make your daily budget small to begin with. Watch the campaign closely and expect it to be expensive to begin with.
Don’t give up too soon
Your campaign may cost 70 or 80 cents per like for the first couple of days, then gradually, the price should begin to fall. So don’t give up too soon.
Our first four likes cost $0.78 (59p) each in advertising. The next thirteen likes were $0.40 (30p) each and so on. By day 13 the cost was down to $0.02 (just over 1p) per like.
For such a well targeted audience (see below) this is very good
If our case study pet blog is able to generate an income on a similar level to our other sites, this is actually a sustainable price for us long term
However, we’ll be proceeding with caution, as all websites perform differently and grow at different rates.
Don’t ‘buy’ likes
Remember, this is advertising you are paying for, you are not ‘buying’ likes. The people who see your page can choose to ignore it.
And the people who choose to like your page are genuine Facebook account holders, with a genuine interest in your topic.
Never be tempted to ‘buy likes’ from anyone.
The likes you get could be from fake accounts, and at best will probably not be people that are genuinely interested in what you post.
As a result, they will probably never visit your website.
Creating your Facebook audience
When you promote your page Facebook gives you the option to target your audience, and it is very important that you do this.
You can target people by both location and by their interests
Think about who your potential customers are and only promote your page to them
If you are a local business, a dog walker for example, you must target your local area when creating a page promotion or your money will be wasted.
And of course, you need to target dog owners.
If you are a small animal veterinary practice in Liverpool, you need to target dog and cat owners living in Liverpool. There is no point whatever in promoting your services to people living in Alaska.
It seems obvious, but its easy to get carried away, or put off by the size of your target audience, and think that more is better. It isn’t
We could have gained our likes for our new pet blog even more cheaply if we had not been very specific about our audience.
Likes from the UK and the USA tend to cost more in terms of promotion than likes from other areas. But we need to focus on regions where we are Amazon affiliates as this will be our most significant source of income from this site, in the first three years.
Setting a campaign budget
We know how much we can afford to spend, based on our projected earnings from the site. Even for us, this is something of a gamble.
And I think it’s important to recognise this
Always start small, with a very affordable commitment. You can adjust upwards if things seem to be going your way.
Don’t just ‘set and forget’. Make sure you will be available to check your campaign daily for the next few days. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you if necessary.
The limitations of social traffic
If you decide to do it, your FB campaign should only be one aspect of your marketing strategy. Never rely on one source for your website traffic, in case that source ‘dries up’.
A busy Facebook page does help you drive traffic to your website, but it is not the highest quality traffic.
Most of the people who visit a site from social media don’t stick around. They read the article you linked to, and leave.
If you have quality control issues in your business or your service needs to be improved, get that sorted before promoting yourself on Facebook. Anyone who wants to complain will be sure to highlight any grievances on your page.
Investing in a Facebook business page – summary
Promoting a site through a Facebook page isn’t essential, and there are risks. Your topic may not be right for a Facebook audience, or your target audience may be too small.
You may have difficulty converting your page visitors into website visitors or customers. Or Facebook may decide to move the goalposts once more.
There are many factors to consider.
The benefits are that some of your social visitors will stick around and become regular visitors, and that in the meantime, the army of fans on your Facebook page will encourage others to join them.
This will help you create a thriving community that will grow with your business.
And if Facebook traffic turns out to be a winner for you, with an established page, you’ll be in a good situation to take advantage of it.
How about you?
Do you have a Facebook business page? Have you tried promoting the page yet? Where you happy with the results? Share you experiences in the comments box below.
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